Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cradled

From the minute your feet swing out of bed in the early gray light, your muscles begin a dance with what's below. Heel rolling, toes flexing, weight shifting from side to side, there's a subconscious push against what's underneath: carpet, wood, grass, dirt.

You spend your days walking upon the earth -- desk to chair, bedroom to kitchen, stairway to floor, one place to another -- with muscles stretching and pulling, each footfall pushing down then springing up from the solid ground. You are secure in the knowledge that you are strong. Your skeleton and muscles and nerve endings will work together. You are in control.

But then a day comes when you don't feel quite so strong. You are tired. You are sore. Instead of holding yourself against the earth, you let the earth hold you. Bones and muscles relax and sink downward, and you feel grateful that you are cradled by something larger, something much more expansive than your own will, your own might.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Head, Hands, Heart

Hands:
Your hands are firmly placed on a yoga mat these days. After a hiatus of nearly two years (during which you injured your sacroiliac joint twice, had one bout of the flu, and two tussles with bronchitis), you are stable enough in body and mind and lung and muscle to return to your practice.

Twice a week, sometimes three times a week, you drive to the next town over, park in the lot, and make your way to the studio, mat in hand. Though you've only been to this studio a handful of times, you feel at home on your mat. And really, all you need is a floor upon which you can place your mat, something solid to push against, a small spot on the earth to hold you up, and the air around you to breathe.

There on the mat, you are balance and strength and clarity. You are connected there, whether mountain or tree or warrior or crow. You become one with the world around you, even as you stretch your boundaries while stretching your body. It feels good.

Head:
Paint is on your head, or at least on your mind. Weeks ago, you decided that the bathroom must be painted -- and it would be painted in wide black and white stripes. When the Gingerbread Man found a most desirable shower curtain, the Periodic Table, you dithered over the decision to paint stripes. While black and white stripes would probably be fine with a colorful Periodic Table shower curtain, it's not quite the look you were aiming for. So you consider painting a black and white mural. Or a stylized checkerboard. Or something.

In the meantime, you rip out a rickety storage cabinet and allow the bathroom to descend into chaos, in an attempt to push you forward into some sort of decision, some sort of progress. You begin priming the walls, which are currently a very saturated Mediterranean blue. Almost as soon as the paint hits the wall, you realize that you have the wrong primer. This primer is for new drywall, not finished surfaces. The paint beads up on the surface of the wall.

Tomorrow, you say. Tomorrow you'll return the primer, get the right primer, and someday soon this bathroom will become functional again: primed, painted, shelved.

Heart:
You seem to be full of the wrong words. You type the wrong words into messages. You say the wrong words to friends. You think the wrong words. You're mired in wrong words. You don't trust yourself to show up anywhere in the coming days for fear of popping your size 6 1/2s in your mouth yet again. Even when you say nothing, you're certain it's the wrong thing. You wish you could just send out a giant apology to the world: an airplane spelling out "Sorry! So, so sorry!" in puffy white contrail floating across the sky. You only hope that some small good deed done in time past will make up for your verbal ineptitude, and that someday soon the right words will take residence in you again.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dipping and Crunching

When you were eighteen, you applied for a study abroad program in Italy. On the day you received the acceptance letter, there was no one home. You wanted to call someone to celebrate, but couldn't reach anyone. All that excitement and anticipation was bottled up inside, and you felt like you could fly.

But this was long before the days of social media -- long before the days of email even.

So you sat at your desk in the dormer of your attic bedroom, with tortilla chips and salsa, dipping and crunching, dreaming and planning, having a celebration solo.

This morning, twenty-some years later, you complete a big thing.

A really big thing.

And you feel like celebrating.

But there's no one home.

And though you could shout it from the rooftops at any number of social media sites, you think you'd rather celebrate solo.

So you sit at the kitchen table with some homemade pita chips and tzaziki, dipping and crunching, dreaming and planning, and feeling very much like your eighteen-year old self.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Head, Heart, Hands

March

Head
Wanderlust.

Each spring, your mind shifts to Italy, to Roman skies, to marble mosaics, to churches and monuments. You itch to fly away, to see something exotic, to walk upon ancient roads, to breathe in air that has wound its way in and out of spaces for millenia. You check airfares. You check vacation schedules. You think in Italian, in Spanish, in the words of any other language you can conjure up, though not much remains of anything but English.

When you were thirteen, your grandparents took your sister and you to England for a summer. It was a celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary, and they let you join in. They rented a flat in Surbiton, Surrey, the upstairs of a beautiful house. It seemed palatial to you, coming from your 900 square foot post-WWII urban home. You lived upstairs from a single mother and her three boys, who must have thought you were terribly American. You suppose you were.

You navigated London and its surrounds via bus, tube, train, and foot. You don't remember many specifics about that summer other than it was formative for you. That summer indelibly printed onto the landscape of your memory the call of place. You visited cathedrals and castles, ships and museums, and within those places you encountered stories, histories, natural and man-made beauty, and traditions that all came together in a way that called to your heart.

Since that time, you spent a semester in Siena, Italy, a month backpacking through Europe with your sister, ten days on another study abroad in the Lake District and London, a week in Rome, a week in Oxford, six weeks in Seoul, South Korea, and a week each in Istanbul and Greece.

And each spring, you crave more places, more possibilities, more stories. Some springs, you get to plan an adventure. Most springs, you settle for an adventure in your backyard. But that's ok. The sky is impossibly blue today, the maple trees are tapped, and there is magic in the woods.

Heart
Anniversary

This month marks your nineteenth wedding anniversary. Soon, you will have spent more of your life having known and loved your husband than not. Each day is a gift; each year a miracle. You adore your husband, and you're so thankful you've had so many years together.

Hands 
New Spaces

Since finishing another draft of The Lady's Lot, you have reconfigured your desk arrangement. It is now: (1) clean, (2) organized, and (3) a standing desk, with optional sitting space. Hot-cha.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Changdeokgung

Never worry about the delay of your success compared to others, because construction of a palace takes more time than an ordinary building.